Aruba!

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Lauren and Gordon on a boat

Hello friends!

I’m finally FINALLY getting around to posting about our Aruban vacation! It was quite the task going through all these photos and I still have to edit some video I took, but I did want to post this since many of you are headed to Aruba for Spring Break!

We love love loved our time in Aruba and want to go back with our children in the near future. We loved how familiar it felt, how clean it was (mostly), how gorgeous the beaches were, how warm the water was, how good the food was, how we found European influences everywhere and how they accept American money across the island. It was easy to get to, easy to get around on and we felt safe the entire time.  We cannot say enough good about Aruba. Basically, you all were right! I had at least 100 of you telling me we HAD to experience this lovely island.

Winter and spring are the best times to go to travel to Aruba because the weather is moderate, so March for us was perfect. The average temperature when we were there was 83 degrees and windy. I was super annoyed by the wind because HAIR, but my husband pointed out that the heat was much more bearable and pleasant with that wind. So I tied my hair back and learned to count my blessings.

We were so relaxed the entire time and thoroughly thoroughly enjoyed focusing on each other. No work, no kids, just us. If you haven’t had a trip away from your kids with just your spouse in a while, GO! It doesn’t have to be to a tropical island; Staycations work, too! Taking yourself out of the everyday grind helps change your focus to your spouse and reminds you both why you like each other so much. I’d highly recommend it! Come to think of it, I’d highly recommend a lot of things about couples-only trips and about Aruba, so here’s a post all about it. Below are all the specific details. If I’ve forgotten something or you have a specific question about a certain topic or place, leave a comment below and I’ll do my best to answer it!

Here we go!

 

Where we stayed

When we travel, we usually have kids with us and try to select rooms and activities that are obviously family friendly. So, when the idea of just Gordon and I going away for a few days came up in conversation, we knew we wanted an adult-only resort or hotel. So we booked a hotel room at the Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino in Oranjestad. They have an adult-only hotel as well as a separate family-friendly hotel. We stayed at the adult-only hotel and were so surprised to walk into one of their largest suites! They had heard it was our anniversary and wanted to make our trip as memorable as possible. That was my goal with this trip too, so it was so nice to be received with open arms! As you can tell by the photos below, our hotel suite was larger than our apartment in the city!! We were spoiled with space, a gorgeous view and a very quiet room. Considering I am amongst kids and chaos most days, a quiet room is something I only dream about. They seriously delivered for us. We loved the downtown location, all the nearby shopping and restaurants, the proximity to the airport and how everything was easy to get to! While there is no beachfront property at the hotel, they own The Renaissance Private Island with boats that will take you there all day! Lots of these photos are from that as well. (More info about the island below!)

So, thank you to the overachievers at Renaissance Aruba Resort for truly making this a dream vacation for us. Find Renaissance Aruba on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

A group of palm trees next to a body of water

A palm tree in a pool of water

A large pool of water in front of a house

Hotel room

 

Hotel dining table
Those sweethearts at the Renaissance left us some goodies and a note congratulating us on 10 years of marriage!

A bedroom with a bed and desk in a room

A person in front of a mirror posing for the camera

A view of a large window
Our lovely view!

A boat is docked next to a body of water

 

What we did

We got a lot crossed off our ‘must see’ list! Below were our favorites!

So many of you recommended that we rent a Jeep and explore the island and that is exactly what we did! We were able to book one from Hertz in the lobby of the Renaissance. Super convenient for us and it turned out to be one of our favorite things we did! Because the island is so small, we were able to see the California Lighthouse, Alto Vista Chapel, the Bushiribana Ruins, the Natural Bridge, Baby Beach, Palm Beach, Eagle Beach and all the beautiful views along the way. It was a really relaxing, bumpy and enjoyable drive. I’d highly recommend it!

Snorkeling Boat Tour with Octopus Aruba–this was a big highlight for us and so so fun! We loved being able to enjoy the 3-hour morning sail, but also the two snorkeling stops! The weather was perfect and so was the water. The part where I accidentally flashed some fellow snorkelers was not my best moment, but whatever. My husband said they probably liked it (gross) so you’re welcome, swimmers. Also included in our tickets were a light breakfast and lunch with unlimited drinks. We want to go back and do this with our kids once they are a little older.

Parasailing with Delphi Water Sports–if you’re not afraid of heights and even if you are, both Gordon and I are here to tell you you MUST try this!! It was so so fun! We both love roller coasters, so this was a breeze compared to some of the ones I’ve been on. We went on a pretty windy afternoon and got jolted around a ton, but it just added to the thrill of it. We both were laughing the entire way up and the entire way down saying again and again how fun it was. The boat driver tried to scare us by slowing down and making our feet come about 6 inches away from the water before he floored it and launched us back into the air again, but we weren’t scared at all! It was just so funny and fun to experience. A little pricey for just 10 minutes of air time, but totally worth it! (And these were the people who said “it must be a good sign that everyone thinks you’re still on your honeymoon!” and we agree 100%)

It’s important to note that on nearly every beach, there are chair and umbrella rentals. If we were to stay at an Airbnb next time, we’d probably want to be close to Palm Beach (busy) or Eagle Beach (much quieter) because of the gorgeous white sand and the crystal clear water and all the convenient rentals. My kids love playing in the sand and the water. We really want to go back to Aruba as a family.

Good tip: if you’re not staying at Palm Beach but want to visit, you can leave your car with any of the hotel valet services (about $15/day + tip). We did this two days in a row and walked through the lobby of the hotel, right to the beach!

Twice we went over to the Renaissance Private Island to enjoy the quiet adult beaches there too and see the flamingoes! I have never seen a flamingo up close before, so it was really fun to be on a beach chair and have them running back and forth along the beach, right in front of me. The private island has lots of chairs, cabanas to rent, hammocks, water toys for rent, towels, bars and a restaurant. We spent a lot of time here 🙂

We don’t usually get to see any movies at home…no time, usually! So we headed over to The Cinemas for an afternoon showing of Black Panther. Tickets were $5.61 ya’ll. That’s for two tickets you guys!! And the medium popcorn and two large drinks were another $6! Movies are cheap in Aruba. I know it seems kind of silly to see a movie on vacation, but when you’ve been sitting in the sun for 4 days in a row, sometimes you want to take a break in an air conditioned room while drinking an ice cold diet coke and munching on some popcorn. WE REGRET NOTHING.

A woman sitting on a bench

A small house surrounded by water
Renaissance Private Island

A beach with a palm tree

A beach with a palm tree

Gordon walking down a path

A group of people on a beach near a body of water

A group of palm trees next to a tree

Lauren next to flamingos
Flamingoes!! On the Renaissance Private Island.

Flamingos

A palm tree

 

Lauren and Gordon going in the water

Lauren standing in the water

Lauren sitting facing the water

Lauren posing for the camera

A Jeep

Lauren and Gordon on the beach

A close up of a tower

Lauren standing in front of a tower
Diet coke in my coconut!! Best thing ever!

A macaw

People in crowding toward a building

A body of water
Baby Beach!

Shadows

Sail boat sails

Lauren and Gordon on a boat

Lauren and Gordon snorkeling

The ocean

Lauren and Gordon on a boat

A boat on a body of water

Lauren and Gordon parasailing

Where we ate

Sooooo many great places!

Gianni’s Italian Restaurant–this was the first place I really wanted to visit after a reader told me about the Spaghetti Al Formaggio Parmigiano….basically spaghetti tossed together in a wheel of parmesan cheese. It’s ground breakingly delicious. Run, don’t walk to eat this. Also, don’t go parasailing immediately after stuffing your face with pasta. Do as we say, not as we do.

Le Petit Cafe–close to Palm Beach and all those hotels. We came for lunch and it was tasty! I ate a great big salad and it was delicious! Gordon had a fish sandwich and it was really good too. But these folks are known for cooking food on hot stones (like coldstone, but hot 😉 ) BUT they only do that at dinner time. So, we got normal food. Another reason to go back to Aruba.

Flying Fishbone–this came as a highly recommended restaurant from many of you! The views were amazing and so was the food! My only issue is how far away from Oranjestad it was. We had our Jeep, so it was a bit of a non-issue, but could see how people couldn’t make it here. Though, the restaurant staff does an amazing job at getting people cabs. At dessert, our server double checked if we needed her to call a taxi for us. They definitely look out for the customer.

Renaissance Aruba Resort Room Service…oh mama, its good! The chicken tenders and the chicken tenders salad were my favorites! Also, the american breakfast that showed up right at 9am on our last day hit the spot. #bacon Just give me room service and a robe. I’m not picky 😉

The Dutch Pancake House–we ate here for breakfast one day and then dinner another day. Tasty little dutch pancakes!! Also NUTELLA!

Casa Tua Pizzeria–really tasty salad and wood-fired  pizza around the corner from the Dutch Pancake House.

Atardi–this is a fancier, seafood beach restaurant found at theAruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino. We ate the most delicious food here! Every course was phenomenal and there was not one thing that we did not like. It is also located right on the beach so the sunset views we had were so romantic. Be sure to order the Tuna Carpaccio, the Surf & Turf and the Peanut Butter & Chocolate Layers cake. Atardi is a great ‘special dinner’ spot (looked like lots of other celebrations were being had around us!) or if you just want really good food. They also knew it was our anniversary so we got the special treatment. Decorated table and chairs, plus a sparkler in our dessert!

 

Dinner at a table

Pasta

Pasta in a cheese wheel

A close up of a plate of food

Fish sandwich

Salad

Menu

A beach

A drink

A salad

Steak

Dessert

Breakfast
Room service Breakfast from The Renaissance Resort & Casino
Helpful Links

So of course I couldn’t finish this post without a few quick links to help answer some of the questions I’ve been getting about the stuff I bought for Aruba. Truly, it’s a bunch of miscellaneous items that I have been loving! (Some affiliate links below!)

I bought some new sunscreen for our trip (in spf 50 thankyouverymuch) and were both shocked that neither of us got burned. Like at all! We’ve never had that experience before. We didn’t have kids with us to worry about so maybe we took a little extra time to apply it relatively frequently and that’s why we came home not sunkissed in the least?! I dunno. But we both were impressed with it. Be sure to get the SunBum lotion and not the spray.

Beachy, comfy shorts from Target, under $15! My new favorite white t-shirt, also from Target for under $10! I am wearing a ruffled sleeve white t-shirt in some of these photos as well from Splendid. SO comfy!

I mostly wore one-piece swimsuits from Cupshe (this one and this one) but one lazy day on the beach I wore this bikini top and these magical bikini bottoms (which made my butt look half decent and way more round than I ever thought it could be.)

I got a two pack of sunglasses from ASOS because I didn’t want to bring the one expensive pair I own.

I asked for book recommendations and eventually settled on The Magnolia Story which I finished on the flight there. Oops?!

I switched between walking in my $10 trusty Target flip flops and my chuck taylor’s (so comfy!). It did the trick 🙂 No sore feet for me.

I packed and wore my NY Yankees hat to keep the sun away and that it does. Hooray!

So there you have it! My very long post about Aruba!! If you have any other recommendations to add to my list, do let me know! Have a great day, friends! xo

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47 Responses
  1. Donna

    Absolutely STUNNING pictures. I am a long time reader and could not be happier for your and Gordon to have celebrated your 10th anniversary in Aruba. I have been wanting to go for years. You may have sealed the deal. Happy Anniversary. You of all people DESERVED THIS VACATION more than most. You sure have done so much all on your own to support Gordon’s career. I admire your strength.

    Happy Easter!

  2. Dominique Brooks

    Congratulations on your anniversary! I had to comment (I don’t comment much) because I love Aruba (went in December 2014). Your pictures brought back so many memories! It’ such a beautiful, peaceful place!

    I am glad you had a wonderful time!

    Happy Easter!

    Dominique

  3. Laura

    I love this post! I just messaged my husband to tell him Aruba moved up on our vacation list! Thank you so much for sharing the photos and details.

    1. dahlia

      I have been going to aruba for 25 years i even bought a house there. As a tourist it looks great. However aruba has changed and not for the better. Lets be honest and not be naive. I have made many arubian friends. They hate the changes. Over building….too many roundabout roads. I even witnessed a huge fight for 10 americans in the ritz carlton. No security. Many areas are now dangerous. So many other negative things people should know before spending tons of money. Nice beaches yes. Be aware .

  4. Karin Nappi

    Great post! My husband and I just got back last week from celebrating our 30th anniversary! We LOVED Aruba. We stayed at the Renaissance family hotel and it was fantastic. We also rented a car and explored the island including the California Lighthouse, did a CRAZY fun ATV Tour, and freestyles the rest of the week with Flamingo Island, lots of eating and drinking. We want to go back for 2 weeks next year with our adult kids. The island was safe and we did not cross a single unhappy person the entire trip!! Can’t wait to go back!!

  5. Heather Haight

    Thank you for all the pics & info. We are heading there April 26, 2018 with my wife did our honey moon. I’m super excited. The pics were amazing !!

  6. Michele Schneider

    I am SO happy I stumbled upon this write up!! We are heading to Aruba on April 30, 2018 – me, my hubby, and our kids (ages 9 & 11). We’re staying in the Renaissance suites. This will be our first time to Aruba! You mentioned the clear water of Palm & Eagle beaches….how does the Renaissance private island beach measure up? I’m mainly curious about how the water clarity compares to other beaches such as Palm/Eagle/Baby. Also, is the bottom sandy enough to swim barefoot or is it rocky and we’ll need to wear water shoes while swimming? I have found lots of reviews for the other beaches, but I haven’t really found any good descriptions or comparisons for the water clarity at the Renaissance beach. So any feedback you could give would be SO much appreciated!!

    1. Lauren

      I went in the water on Flamingo beach (adult only) and it was a little rocky, but no one had water shoes on. I never went in the water on the family beach side. It was extra windy when we were there, so the waves were a little bigger than normal which I think contributed to the water not seeming to be AS clear as Eagle Beach. But it was still really lovely and relaxing! We had a great time there!

  7. Ready for Summer! | Lauren's Latest

    […] sunscreen! I first discovered this on our trip to Aruba. It worked so well for us that I’m going to be using it all summer on my kids too. And, I […]

  8. Susan Olthof

    I read this right after you went and reread it tonight. It SO makes me want to schedule a week there! Sounds so wonderful! And you have so many good tips!

  9. Kim Henrichs

    Aruba was one of the first islands that I visited and I loved it so much. I really want to go back and see the flamingos!!!!

  10. Jen

    My Husband and I honeymooned in Aruba, and it was just magical! Reading your post took me right back to “One Happy Island”! Congratulations on 10 years together 🙂

  11. Kim

    Aruba is the best❣️ I would recommend staying at Renaissance to everyone. I am going back again in a few months and I am so excited. Thank you for sharing your vacation with us and I am so happy you had a great Anniversary! Here’s to many more 🥂🍾🎉🌴

  12. Shelli Bender

    Although sadly I am not able to go out in the sun such as arbula would give me; I very much enjoyed your pictures and can create my own dream from them! Thank you for that!
    I think my favorite was your picture with the flamingos! I had no idea they are such tall birds, and obviously not scared of the human on their beaches *laughs* I hope you can return again! and continue sharing pictures.

  13. Cheri Ditsch

    Three kids and you look amazing! So glad you had a great trip; looks like a wonderful and relaxing place to go!

  14. Alisha S

    Your trip looked like so much fun! I would love to visit Aruba someday. I will definitely check out your post of places to eat and things to do. Thanks

  15. Gail Johansen

    Great memories! I went to Aruba many years ago with my company. Was able to bring m6 mother and four year old son at the time. We loved our hotel’s private island!

  16. Danielle Sanchez

    These photos are stunning!! I couldn’t imagine a vacation without my little one and this looks so enticing! Congratulations on your anniversary 💜💜

  17. Katie Phillips

    It has always been a dream on mine to visit Aruba with my husband. My parents had their honeymoon there and always raved about it’s beauty. Thanks for the beautiful pictures to swoon over. Love your blog!

  18. Megan Bramos

    Your pictures are stunning and have my wheels turning for an Anniversary getaway in the future! I’m sure it was such a wonderful way to reconnect and relax. Love the blog!

  19. Willerd Sánchez

    I’m glad to know that there are people who enjoy Aruba as much as I do. When I go with my family, for the months of August or September, we stay in a very comfortable apartment that I bought with my retirement at Harbor House (www.harbourhousearuba.com), excellent place, highly recommended. Since I have memory I always wanted to dive and see the wonders of the sea nearby, when I went to the Island for the first time I was able to achieve that dream! Truly, Aruba is a fantastic place

  20. Amanda D

    Great post! Heading to the same hotel in July for a girls trip. Wondering if you ate at any restaurants in the resort (since we are doing an all inclusive). If so, any tips?

  21. Alex

    One of the things that I love about Aruba is its gastronomic diversity; Since I moved to Harbour House Aruba (www.harbourhousearuba.com), seen Palm Beach, as in Le Petit Cafe every day hahaha

  22. Alex

    Excellent post, quite entertaining!

    Definitely Aruba is one of the best paradisiac destination in the whole world, its natural beauty is incredible.

    After visiting the “happy island” year after year, I decided to buy an apartment in Azure Beach Residences (www.azure.aruba.com), to give my children a future in this beautiful island, I think it was a good decision.

  23. Alena

    My husband and I went to Aruba with couple of our friends in March 2019 to celebrate our 15th and theirs 5th wedding anniversary. And it all happened because of your post about Aruba. It was excellent! So Thank you, Thank you!

  24. Marylou Brum

    This is such a great post. Aruba is one of my favorite places on earth. Looking through all the pictures made me realize how much I miss spending time there. You seem to have had such a great time, love all the details and places you had experienced. But most of all the happiness and love you shared with each other in celebrating your anniversary. Thank you for sharing and making me want to go back real soon.